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The Gospel of Buddha:Chapter 10: Uruvela, the Place of Mortification

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The Bodhisatta went in search of a better system
and came to a settlement of five bhikkhus
in the jungle of Uruvela;
and when the Blessed One saw the life of those five men,
virtuously keeping in check their senses,
subduing their passions, and practising austere self-discipline,
he admired their earnestness and joined their company. [1]

With holy zeal and a strong heart,
the Sakyamuni gave himself up to meditative thought
and rigorous mortification of the body.
Whereas the five bhikkhus were severe, the Sakyamuni was severer still,
and they revered him, their junior, as their master. [2]

So the Bodhisatta continued for six years
patiently torturing himself and suppressing the wants of nature.
He trained his body and exercised his mind
in the modes of the most regorous ascetic life.
At last, he ate each day one hemp-grain only,
seeking to cross the ocean of birth and death
and to arrive at the shore of deliverance. [3]

And when the Bodhisatta was ahungered,
lo! Mara, the Evil One, approached him and said:
"Thou art emanciated from fasts, and death is near.
What good is thy exertion?
Deign to live, and thou wilt be able to do good works."
But the Sakyamuni made reply:
"O thou friend of the indolent, thou wicked one;
for what purpose hast thou come?
Let the flesh waste away,
if but the mind becomes more tranquil
and attention more steadfast.
What is life in this world?
Death in battle is better to me
than that I should live defeated." [4]

And Mara withdrew, saying:
"For seven years I have followed the Blessed One step by step,
but I have found no fault in the Tathagata." [5]

The Bodhisatta was shrunken and attenuated,
and his body was like a withered branch;
but the fame of his holiness spread in the surrounding countries
and people came from great distances to see him
and receive his blessing. [6]

However, the Holy One was not satisfied.
Seeking true wisdom he did not find it,
and he came to the conclusion that mortification would not extinguish desire
nor afford enlightenment in ecstatic contemplation. [7]

Seated beneath a jambu-tree,
he considered the state of his mind
and the fruits of his mortification.
His body had become weaker,
nor had his fasts advanced him in his search for salvation,
and therefore when he saw that is was not the right path,
he proposed to abandon it. [8]

He went to bathe in the Neranyjaro river,
but when he strove to leave the water
he could not rise on account of his weakness.
Then espying the branch of a tree and taking hold of it,
he raised himself and left the stream.
But while returning to his abode,
he staggered and fell to the ground,
and the five bhikkhus thought he was dead. [9]

There was a chief herdsman living near the grove
whose eldest daughter was called Nanda;
and Nanda happened to pass by the spot where the Blessed One had swooned,
and bowing down before him she offered him rice-milk and he accepted the gift.
When he had partaken of the rice-milk all his limbs were refreshed,
his mind became clear agin,
and he was strong to receive the highest enlightenment. [10]

After this occurrence, the Bodhisatta again took some food.
His disciples, having witnessed the scene of Nanda
and observing the change in his mode of living, were filled with suspicion.
They were convinced that Siddhattha's religious zeal was flagging
and that he whom they had hitherto revered as their Master
had become oblivious of his high purpose. [11]

When the Bodhisatta saw the bhikkhus turning away from him,
he felt sorry for their lack of confidence,
and was aware of the loneliness in which he lived. [12]

Suppressing his grief he wandered on alone,
and his disciples said:
"Siddhattha leaves us to seek a more pleasant abode." [13]

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